Google is once again the target of criticism over the apparently hamfisted way it tries to assert its dominance with Android. This week, Acer was forced to cancel the launch of a smartphone intended for the Chinese market running Aliyun OS, Alibaba's new mobile operating system.
It was the first phone with the new OS from Acer and more were supposed to follow. But moments before the big launch, Acer announced that it won't be revealing the phone, which was supposed to start selling yesterday.
At the time Alibaba said that Google forced Acer to drop the launch so it can ensure the dominance of Android. Previously, Alibaba said that its ambition was to make Aliyun as popular as Android in China. Acer already makes several Android devices.
Things didn't look good for Google, but they're not as clear cut as it seems. Google has now clarified its stance and the company does have a point.
In a lengthy post on the Official Android blog, Android chief Andy Rubin explained that the Open Handset Alliance was created to ensure compatibility.
That is to say, device makers that are part of OHA pledge to keep the core Android intact, to ensure that all apps run as intended.
Acer is part of OHA and this is why Google was able to force it to drop the Aliyun device. Essentially, Google told it that it either drops Aliyun or can't ship officially sanctioned Android devices. The choice was easy.
But it does sound strange that Google would wait until the phone is about to launch to pull the plug. There is an explanation though,
Until now, Alibaba had been telling everyone that it's mobile OS is Linux-based and that it spent the last three years developing it.
The problem is that, according to Google, that's not exactly accurate, Aliyun is actually based on Android, or at the very least it uses certain core Android components. Android itself is based on Linux, the kernel mostly, so Alibaba wasn't lying, it just wasn't telling the whole truth.
Google doesn't want phone makers to ship official Android devices alongside unsanctioned forks, which is why it pulled the plug on the Acer launch. You can check out a less censored view from Andy Rubin on the matter as well as how much Aliyun copied Android here.